We chat to Jason Manford ahead of his big Abu Dhabi gig
Tickets for the famous British stand-up are on sale now…
One of British stand-up comedy’s most treasured alumni, Jason Manford is returning to the UAE with former collaborators, The Laughter Factory, as part of their ongoing Selfdrive tour. The date and venue have been set, he’ll be jetting into Abu Dhabi for a gig at the grand, Emirates Palace on May 12, 2023.
We caught up with the comic ahead of his gig:
What’s On: How would you describe your style of comedy to someone who’s never seen your work before?
Jason Manford: I would say it’s relatable. It’s sort of family focused, but it is for adults. It’s not a kid’s show, but it’s a show that I think that you can bring your teenage kids to and your grandparents, and we’ll all have a laugh.
WO: How do you come up with the material for your stand-up shows? Do you have a particular process or a routine?
JM: I think that it comes from listening to people, keeping your eyes open and also saying yes to things. That’s what I’ve learned in the last 20 years. If somebody offers you an opportunity that you think sounds a bit unusual, or out of your comfort zone, just say yes and just see where it goes. And you’d be surprised what I’ve ended up with, I got 20 minutes of routine by doing gigs for the troops in Afghanistan or when I took part in The Masked Singer and things like that.
So I think that’s important to try and just live a bit and experience stuff. I come home and I’ll say to my wife or my kids or my friends, this thing happened today. Even if they’re, like, smiling or giggling, I think maybe there’s something there. They are a little bit like my guinea pigs, but they’re aware of it.
WO: You’ve hosted a number of popular TV shows. How does hosting compare to performing stand up?
JM: Well, there’s nothing like stand up. I love TV, radio and singing in all the musicals, but stand up is so direct. You’re not waiting for viewing figures or reviews or anything like that. You just literally said something, they responded immediately and you move on. There’s something quite magical about that.
WO: How has your comedy style evolved over the years?
JM: I think I’ve become more confident in my opinion. I think a lot of people do as they get older. I reckon 20 years ago, I’d be a bit more cagey about, like, “this is what I sort of think, but if you think that, then that’s fine,” and I’d maybe look at it from different angles and now I just talk about it from that angle and hope people get on board. Or even if they disagree, they disagree in a sort of light-hearted way. So, yeah, I think I’ve become more robust on stage.
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WO: Do you think people have become more sensitive since you started?
JM: It’s a question you get asked a lot, and I think yes and no. I think the world has, but I think comedy audiences haven’t. I mean, they’re still people who like to have their boundaries pushed and like to hear edgy things and they come for that almost.
I think the reporting of the sensitivity is much bigger than it was now. Three tweets saying, “I found that offensive” is a news story, and so then people think that the world has become softer when it hasn’t.
I don’t think there’s any harm in being more thoughtful and trying to incorporate your whole audience into your gig. I would hate for anyone to feel left out or upset about something I said on stage. And really, is there words and phrases or hard opinions that you could leave out in your show? I feel like there’s a lot of comics that say things for offence sake, rather than thinking, this is really funny, or this is what I really believe. I think all this will get me a bit of coverage.
It’s easy to be offensive, it’s actually harder to do what I do and people like Michael McIntyre and Peter Kay to do that stuff, but it’s easier to be offensive. If everyone leaves thinking ‘that was a great show’ then that’s what you want, not crying because of something you’ve said, that’s the opposite of your job.
WO: Can you give us a sneak peek of what to expect from your show in Abu Dhabi?
JM: I’m going to call it a mixed bag, because I’ve just done a tour of the UK, and I did the show Dubai last April called Like Me. There’s a bit of that – looking back through lockdown and stuff, which is obviously, that’s quite British focused because that’s where I was.
I did a show called Muddle Class, I’ll probably throw a bit of that in. I did a show called First World Problems, I got a bit of that. So it’s a bit of a mismatch, really, and I just sort of see what’s pops into a head and we’ll have a laugh see who’s in the room to have a chuckle with them.
Emirates the Palace, W Corniche Road Abu Dhabi, Fri May 12, 2023 from 8.30pm, tickets Dhs195 (premium front two row tickets Dhs295). Tel: (0)50 878 6728. thelaughterfactory.com